|Little Miss with PawPaw back in May|
It all began with a very early morning phone call, 6:27am to be exact. Its funny how you remember such insignificant things as the exact time when bad things happen. I was still mostly asleep and instead of answering, my fingers chose to ignore the call instead. The caller ID showed it was my in-laws calling and that is very out of the ordinary for them to call so early. My mind immediately leapt to the worst case scenario as I was returning the missed call. My worst fears were confirmed: My father-in-law passed away. He went to sleep and just never woke back up. To complicate matters, my in-laws were not at home when this happened, they were staying out of town. I tried to get as much information out of my MIL as possible so I could make the phone calls to the Red Cross and my Ombudsman, but she didn't know much yet because my FIL had not been transported to a funeral home yet (the Red Cross needs confirmation of the event so they contact the funeral home).
I start to think of all the other phone calls and conversations I need to have then my heart literally stops; I realize I will not be the one breaking the news to my husband. He will find out from his Master Chief. I suppose I could have asked for the command to just have my husband call me so I can tell him the news myself, but imagine the situation he will be summoned into: He will be called into his Master Chief's office and told that something has happened so he needs to call his wife. I don't want my husband's mind, for even a moment, to wander and worry about all the possible things that have gone wrong. So having the chain of command break the news to him is for the best.
Then I called my Ombudsman. Even though I am an Ombudsman myself, I didn't want to handle my own personal situation. Being on the other side of the situation, I can really see what a great service Ombudsman do for the families. I was emotional and upset when I made the phone call, I just needed someone to handle this one important thing for me while I handled all the other phone calls that needed to be made. It was such a relief to have someone to contact that could take care of contacting the command for me. Luckily, Hubs was able to call me within an hour (or two, time was blurry at this point) and he was able to begin on the emergency leave paperwork.
When I found out what funeral home the family was using, I called them to let them know I was going to send a Red Cross message because the deceased has a son serving active duty overseas right now. I wanted to give them a heads up so they were prepared for that call. Then I was able to call the Red Cross to send the "official" message to the command.
I didn't tell very many people what was going on, I went Facebook silent for a while. I knew word would get out soon enough because bad news travels fast on the ship, especially when it comes to a sailor getting off the ship for emergency leave. I just wasn't ready for all the questions, especially ones I didn't have answers for.
"When is he coming home?" I don't know.
"When is the funeral?" I don't know.
"When are you leaving? When are you coming back? How long will he be home for?"
You can see how this can be overwhelming when lots of people ask the same questions. I understand why they are asking the questions, but I was emotionally drained and not ready to deal with it all. I was also in disbelief like this was all some sort of bad dream. If I had lost a parent, I would need to be medicated and locked in a little white padded room. I would lose my mind. But that is not how most men work, that is not how Hubs works. Though he has dealt with alot of loss in his life, I was not with him when it happened. I didn't know what version of my husband I would be getting from the airport.
We were very fortunate and my husband was able to be back stateside 2 days after receiving the bad news. I made all the preparations for him coming home, like super cleaning the house. I also lined up people to come by and watch our kitties even though I had no idea when we were leaving town. Picking Hubs up at the airport was full of mixed emotions. I was anxious and nervous. Everytime I started getting excited, I felt guilty because of the circumstances surrounding this homecoming.
Let me make this clear, I would not wish an emergency leave situation on my worst enemy. This is not the homecoming either of us wanted. I would rather Hubs be deployed for over a year than have him come home mid-deployment because his father died.
We drove to Texas to be with the family, it made for a very long car ride both ways. And as always, when one thing goes wrong so do a million others. Our AC went out the same day Hubs came home and it took a week to repair. While we were out of town so we didn't have to deal with the heat, our kitties were here. Thankfully, I have some great friends who came over daily to check on the furry kids and make sure all was okay.
Now comes the hardest part: Saying goodbye again. We dropped Hubs off at the airport last night. Little Miss cried and cried, we tried to prepare her for daddy leaving but it didn't help. Then about an hour after we leave the airport, I get a phone call from Hubs. Yup, nothing ever goes according to plan. There were ground delays and because of that, Hubs wasn't going to make his next flight. On top of that, there weren't any available flights to his destination until Monday. So we went back to the airport and picked up our sailor, again. Boy oh boy, Little Miss is going to be very confused when he leaves again. Goodbye #2 was harder than the first one, I can only imagine how hard #3 is going to be.
I am hoping the rest of our deployment goes by uneventfully. I can only imagine how Hubs feels going back to work and having to deal with the loss of his father. Maybe getting back to the monotony of work will be a welcome distraction.
I guess each day in the military life teaches you new things. Now I know first hand how the military handles emergency situations back home. Now I know how I am supposed to handle an emergency situation. I've known how to handle all of this as an Ombudsman but this time I was on the other side of things.
I was also reminded how fast bad news travels and how wonderful some of my friends truly are. Thanks to everyone who sent texts to check in on us to see if we needed anything or just letting us know you were there for us. Those of you that have felt the need to point out how "lucky" I am to be able to see my husband, there are lots of things I would like to say to you but I am going to simply tell you that I would gladly trade places with you if it means that my father-in-law would still be alive.
Now that this explanation is out of the way, once Hubs is back out to sea I have lots of projects to keep busy. Plus, its summertime! I need to get back to training for the half marathon too. Lots of things to keep me busy for the remainder of this final deployment.